tv PBS News Hour Weekend PBS November 9, 2014 5:30pm-6:01pm EST
captioning sponsored by wnet >> sreenivasan: on this edition for sunday november, 9: president obama says he will defy warnings from republican congressional leaders and press ahead with immigration reform on his own. the president heads to asia for meetings with the chinese leader. we'll examine the state of american-chinese relations. and in our signature segment, set free after being wrongly convicted but without the help the real criminals get. next on pbs newshour weekend. >> pbs newshour weekend is made possible by:
corporate funding is provided by mutual of america-- designing customized individual and group retirement products. that's why we are your retirement company. additional support is provided by: and by the corporation for public broadcasting and by contributions to your pbs station from viewers like you. thank you. from the tisch wnet studios in lincoln center in new york, hari sreenivasan. >> sreenivasan: good evening. thanks for joining us. in an interview broadcast today, president obama again warned house speaker john boehner that he will issue an executive order on immigration reform by the end of the year, unless congress acts first. >> every day that i wait we're misallocating resources, we're deporting people that shouldn't be deported, we're not deporting folks that are dangerous and need to be deported. so john, i'm going to give you some time, but if you can't get it done before the end of the
year i'm going to have to take the steps that i can to improve the system. >> sreenivasan: the senate passed a bi-partisan immigration reform bill in 2013 but the republican-led house never voted on it. during the same interview on cbs's face the nation program, the president refused to rule out sending more troops to iraq beyond the additional 15-hundred he said friday he would deploy there. >> should we expect that more troops may be needed before this is over? >> you know as commander in chief i'm never going to say never. but, you know, that the commanders who presented the plan to me say is that we may actually see fewer troops over time because now we are seeing coalition members starting to partner with us on the training and assist effort. >> sreenivasan: in israel today, there was new unrest in arab communities following the fatal shooting of a 22-year-old arab man by israeli police. protesters threw rocks and firebombs, and arab israeli community leaders called a general strike. they were reacting to video taken from a security camera. a warning: it is graphic.
it shows the man repeatedly pounding a police patrol car with some sort of object, then being shot as he retreated once an officer confronted him outside the vehicle. the man is then dragged into the car and taken away. prime minister benjamin netanyahu reacted to the demonstrations over the shooting this way: >> ( translated ): i have instructed the interior minister to use all means to stop this, including evaluating the possibility of revoking the citizenship of those who call for the destruction of the state of israel. >> sreenivasan: 20% of israel's citizens are arabs. in afghanistan today, the taliban claimed responsibility for a series of explosions in kabul, including one at the heavily fortified police headquarters. a top police official was killed along with a suicide bomber. another bomb went off near a bus carrying soldiers. no one was killed in that attack. in berlin, ceremonies marking the 25th anniversary of the fall of the berlin wall.
german chancellor angela merkel spoke at a memorial service honoring the more than 130 people who were killed by east german border guards as they tried to cross from east to west during the nearly thirty years the wall stood. >> ( translated ): the fall of the wall showed us that dreams can become reality. nothing has to stay as it is, no matter how high the barricades are. >> sreenivasan: earlier this weekend, the former soviet leader, mikhail gorbachev, speaking in berlin, warned that east-west relations are once again deteriorating. >> ( translated ): the world is on the brink of a new cold war, some are even saying that it has already begun. >> sreenivasan: back in this country, a new government report says homelessness is declining. the study by the department of housing and urban development estimates the number of homeless at 578,000. that represents a 25% drop from 2010. homelessness among veterans reportedly dropped 33 percent during the same period. and school cafeteria food might not always be tasty but it is nutritious. virginia tech researchers
sampled 1,300 lunches and found that school food served to preschoolers and kindergartners was healthier than lunches packed by the kids' parents. more fruits and vegetables in the school lunches, more chips and sugary drinks in those brought from home. >> sreenivasan: the asia pacific economic cooperation summit is about to get underway in beijing. and earlier today, the president left for china. while there, he will be meeting for the first time in 18 months with chinese president xi jinping. it's president obama's first visit to china since 2009. what is the state of china's relationships with world powers including the united states, japan and russia? for more about all this, we are joined now from san francisco by orville schell. he is the director of the center on u.s.-china relations at the asia society. >> this is a region that's responsible for what 40% of the world's population, more than 50% of the trade that's coming out into the world now right? >> indeed and i think this apec
meeting is a very big moment for a tremendous number rather contentious issues. one that have had a relatively sol ysalutary conclusion, it los like, abe may meet with xi jinping and they've worked out an agreement which actually sort of returns it to the status quo, which is that they will agree to disagree and not let these islands sort of bedevil their larger relationship which is very good. it is somewhat of a model for the u.s. and china which shows we can take the issues which divide us annal put them in the completely universe and see if common interests can be resolved. help us understand, some say it's a potential for oil and
natural gas that's surrounding underneath these waters and both these economies are very hungry for furl. >> i think -- for fult. >> i think more importantly is the fortunatthe sovereignty of . it appeared that dund chapo pinning, incredibly conservative governor of tokyo ishihara threatened to buy three of them permly and is he a very -- personally, and he is a are very citizexenophobic individual. so they are off to the races. and now i think with abe going
to beijing and probably meeting with xi jinping we pay see something of a return to that agreement to disagree and get along with the larger and very important relationship. >> also at this conference we're not the only nonasia superpower. i've heard russian president vladimir putin is there. he's had an impactful year. what does that do tot meeting? >> that the meeting is supercharged with radio cifer tensions. one thing that's very characteristic for china and the chinese leadership, if they host something they want it to be successful. so i think you will find them striving mightily to come out of it with major agreements both with japan and hopefully with the united states. and i think they already have their $400 billion gas and oil deal with putin. so he may be something of a little less critical than obama,
abe and xi jinping. >> and are you ever impressed by how the chinese government is able to clear the air when they want over the skies of beijing? it turns out that they shut down factories, they pull cars off roads, they try oget blue skies for this meeting. >> this just tells us how important appearances are to china. how much china really wants to be taken seriously, how much they want to be respected an have rather significant progress in their country appreciated and taken seriously. >> orville schell from san san francisco, thanks very much. >> pleasure. >> sreenivasan: and now to our signature segment.
you've no doubt seen headlines like this one, describing huge awards made to people convicted of crimes they didn't commit. but those headlines might actually create a misimpression. because, as we discovered, many states across the country don't compensate the wrongly convicted at all. and even when some former inmates successfully sue, the process can take years. on any given afternoon in braddock pennsylvania on the outskirts of pittsburgh you'll find drew whitley in stambolis meat shop helping to clean up. it's about all he can do now. he takes valium for an anxiety that is very real for him. what's your life been like? >> some days i wake up with nightmares from the night before. you know i still have nightmares about being locked up. if they locked you up for... for getting life without parole for something you they know you didn't do, ain't no telling what they might do, far as i'm concerned. >> sreenivasan: so you are still living in fear of the justice system? >> oh, yes. i think i'll be that way for the rest of my life. whitley's fear and anxiety are
based on fact. in 1989, whitley, who had two previous convictions for theft and receiving stolen property, was convicted in the high profile murder of noreen malloy, a 22-year-old mcdonald's manager in duquesne, pennsylvania, another town near pittsburgh. although he always maintained his innocence, >> i'm hoping the judge will grant the d.n.a. test so the whole city of pittsburgh can see that they got another innocent man. >> sreenivasan: he served 18 years in prison before d.n.a. testing proved that hairs found in the killer's ski mask did not belong to him. in 2006, he was set free. eight years later, drew whitley's exonerated life is anything but easy. he gets a disability check for $700 a month. just last year at age 58 he moved out of his mother's home into a tiny two room apartment which costs him nearly half his check did people assume that as soon as you were exonerated that you would be paid money? >> oh, yes. i did too. ( laughs ) me too. yes. and it should be like that in
every state. but for all his time spent wrongfully in prison all drew whitley got was $100 that he earned working in the prison laundry. he didn't get another penny from the state. while 30 states do offer compensation to the wrongfully convicted, pennsylvania, along with 19 others, offers nothing. but even where there is compensation available, it is far from equal. for example, texas, pays all exonerees $80,000 for each year they were wrongfully imprisoned and the state is one of the few that also offers some medical care, life skills, and vocational training once they get out. in new hampshire however, the maximum amount an exoneree is entitled to is $20,000, no matter how long the innocent person spent in prison. the federal government has it's own standard, offering $50,000
for each year of wrongful incarceration but while there have been efforts since at least 2009 in the pennsylvania legislature to 6introduce a compensation statute, it's gone nowhere. those who oppose a proposed compensation statute in pennsylvania say that there is lack of regard for innocent victims. they have been shown no evidence of the need for such a law. >> if anybody had any kind of morals in the government, when something like that happened, they should reach out and fix it. and that's not what happens. they fight. they don't fix. >> sreenivasan: bill moushey is a journalism professor at point park university in pittsburgh and a pulitzer prize nominated reporter. for years he and his students have investigated cases of the wrongfully convicted in pennsylvania. his reporting in the pittsburgh post gazette helped get drew whitley exonerated, and he still upset by cases like whitley's >> they used to have hopeless looks in their eyes when i'd look at them across the table in a prison. but now they have helpless looks. and i think the helpless is a lot worse. >> sreenivasan: why? >> because they worked their
whole lives in prison to get out of prison because they didn't do whatever it was they were charged with. and then they get out and nothing is the way they appear-- it should have been. they are just thrown on the scrapheap of life like they were the day they walked into prison. and the only difference is, is that they're only prisoners of their own homes now and not of the state. >> sreenivasan: what kind of support services exist for them after they're out? >> none. >> sreenivasan: in fact, moushey says that when they are released those who have been convicted are in many ways better off than those who have been convicted but are later cleared. >> if you get paroled in pennsylvania or any state, you're put under a very restrictive series of covenants where, you know, they blood test you for drugs, they make you go get a job, they lead you to job search agencies, they show you how to build a resume, they show you a variety of other things that are supposed to help you meld back into society. when you get exonerated, they open the door and say, "see ya later!" there is another option to try to get compensated: suing. that's what jeffrey deskovic did.
like drew whitley, deskovic was also wrongfully convicted of murder and even had an additional charge for rape in new york state and served almost as much time in prison before he was also exonerated in 2006 by d.n.a. but he sued and was awarded more than $13 million by the state of new york and the other municipalities involved in his conviction. and just last month he won another multimillion dollar judgement now deskovic is working in his own way to make sure people don't have to go through what he did. he set up a foundation with his settlement money to help investigate other possible wrongful convictions across the country as well as offer financial and social support to other exonerate sometimes with something as simple as a regular karaoke night with other guys who are wrongfully convicted. >> it's cathartic for me. and i feel like i'm making a difference. and i'm trying to make my suffering count for something. >> i mean it took less than a
year for me to get... get to a trial and to be wrongfully convicted on the criminal side. and in terms of getting a settlement, it took five years. and then to even get a... get to a civil rights trial-- eight years. and then no social services in the meantime. >> sreenivasan: drew whitley sued in federal court alleging that his civil rights were violated. but the bar for proving misconduct is high. even though a federal judge agreed that police officers were negligent, she ruled against his lawsuit saying, "a reasonable officer in 1989 would not have fair warning that conducting a reckless investigation was unconstitutional." >> sreenivasan: so, even though there are admissions of mistakes and of shoddy police work, drew whitley is unlikely to get paid by pennsylvania. >> well, not unlikely.
he's not gonna get paid. he sued. the judge threw the case out. and there's really no recourse, unless we had a compensation package. and we don't. >> sreenivasan: if all of this strikes you as arbitrary that one wrongfully convicted person is paid while another is not, it's because our criminal justice system is largely decided by each individual state. >> we're dealing with, you know, 50 different states plus the federal government, right. and they take different views about these matters. >> sreenivasan: bernard harcourt is a law professor at columbia university who studies punishment in the criminal justice system. he says that while compensation packages may be the more immediate and certain route for helping exonerees, multimillion dollar lawsuits could have a larger impact. >> one of my fears really is that if you have a too straightforward system where anyone who is wrongfully convicted gets $50,000 a year, we stop paying attention you
lose the impetus to really try to make sure that no one actually goes through this. >> sreenivasan: having been through it himself, deskovic says that preventing wrongful convictions is even more important than compensating exonerees after the fact. >> it could never give me my years back. i would be willing to not only give the money back. i'd be willing to go into debt for that amount of money, maybe even double it, to have had my years back, to have had a life. >> sreenivasan: a normal life is all drew whitley was hoping for when he was exonerated. what were your expectations for your life when you got out? >> a good place to stay, food to eat and transportation. that's all i really want out of life. like everybody else.
i don't want to be filthy rich or a millionaire, or whatever. i just want a place to stay. roof over my head and transportation. >> sreenivasan: tuesday is veteran's day, a day to honor those who have served. but since the draft ended in 1973, the number of americans who serve has decreased dramatically leading to what some fear is a lack of understanding between our military and civilian populations. now, some young veterans have devised a program to try to bridge the divide. the newshour's elisabeth ponsot reports. >> initial reader responses, let's just get that out of our systems before we start talking craft. >> reporter: here in brooklyn, a group gathers to discuss the vietnam war novel, tree of smoke. but this is no ordinary book club. it's a meeting of current and former students of words after war, a nonprofit that brings veterans and civilians together to discuss military conflict through a literary lens. brandon willitts, a former intelligence analyst in the navy, co-founded words after war last year. >> you were 18 when you enlisted? >> i was. i had just graduated from high
school when i enlisted. it was-- shortly after 9/11. at the time, you know, there was a real gravity to the situation. and it felt very immediate. and i felt like i had to do something. and that was the only thing i could think of to do was to join the military. >> willitts deployed overseas in 2004, serving in afghanistan, bahrain and qatar. he returned home in june of 2005. >> after over four years in the navy, willitts moved to vermont to pursue a college degree. but at school, he says, he felt like an outsider. >> i think it's like being a unicorn, what i imagine what being like a unicorn would be is that, they're like, "oh that's so interesting but yet we should probably keep our distance because it's so foreign to us and so alien to us." that's what it was like being a veteran on a small, liberal arts campus in new england. was that, i think people didn't know what to make of me. >> during world war ii, more than 12% of the american population served in the armed forces. as of 2013, that number stands at less than .5%.
>> there's a joke within the veterans community that we're the "other one percent." not the wall street barons, but the other one percent of american society. >> reporter: matt gallagher is a writing instructor at words after war. at 22, he joined the army as a cavalry officer and served a 15- month tour in iraq. his memoir, "kaboom," was published in 2010. >> i was a little angry when i first came back. in a way i felt that the military was being used and taken for granted by the broader american society. the wwii generation, both my grandfathers served. they went to war with america. we went to war for america. it's a very subtle but important distinction. >> reporter: gallagher leads the group in discussions about battles contemporary and historic. students share their opinions about war and critique one another's work.
in case you're wondering what civilians get out of the workshop, they say it gives them a window into what it's like to serve in the 21st century. >> we are in search of writers who are interested in having conversations about war and conflict with civilians. >> and what do civilians bring to the table? >> they're coming with the tangible skills. they're coming with words on the page. and the veterans bring the experience. and i think brought together there's a shared relationship. there's a mentorship that can form. for those of us who transitioned out into the civilian world i think it's our responsibility to engage civilians and to let them know about the experiences of combat, of conflict, of transition. it's so important that... that americans stay engaged and involved with their military. like it or not it wasn't just military patches that we wore over there. we wore the american flag. we were representing each and every american citizen. if on some small level, the words after war writing workshop can kind of bridge that divide. then we're doing our part.
( laughter ) >> sreenivasan: new research being conducted on twins in britain shows a close connection between the bacteria in your stomach and the amount of weight you gain or lose. itn's science editor tom clarke reports. >> chat has volunteered to take part in a volunteer experiment, about, unique because she has an identically twin rosie involved in the study too. they're part of the most well researched group of adult twins in the world called the u.k. twins projects, in the kings college in london. they are conducting experiments on weight, and most important,
gut bacteria. what they just found, according to lead researcher tim specter, is quite remarkable. >> how we respond to foods in very different ways and why some people get fat on the diet and oat lose it. >> cna in stool samples for 416 pairs of twins, they discovered a little known group of ancient bacteria, more probable in skinnier individuals than fatter individuals. >> the opposite twin who didn't we put those into mice and found that the one with the lots of mike robes would prevent that mouse from becoming fat and the other one who didn't have it became obese. >> pro-biotic material, doses would have to be tailored to
match the recipient's genes. >> some more news before we leave you in the. secretary of state john kerry will hold more talks the deadline for a deal is two weeks away. and the white house is expressinexpressing concern abos described as the worst fighting in over a month in korean. join -- in eastern ukraine. i'm hari sreenivasan, have a good night. captioning sponsored by wnet captioned by media access group at wgbh access.wgbh.org
>> pbs newshour weekend is made possible by: corporate funding is provided by mutual of america-- designing customized individual and group retirement products. that's why we are your retirement company. additional support is provided by: and by the corporation for public broadcasting and by contributions to your pbs station from viewers like you. thank you.
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